Comic-Con co-founderRichard Alf

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When he was 17 years old in 1970, a guy named Sheldon Dorf wanted to put on a convention for comic book lovers. Alf had something Dorf didn’t: a car, and some cash to help produce the show. So the two teamed up with two others and put on the “Golden State Comic-Con” in San Diego, Calif., attracting 300 attendees. By the next year Alf was the chairman of the conference, and his goal was expansion, which he accomplished “by networking with other fandoms such as the Society for Creative Anachronism and the Mythopoeic Society, among others.” And expand it did: in 2010, 130,000 people attended the conference — the capacity for its venue, the San Diego Convention Center. Now called San Diego Comic-Con International, it not only covers comic books, but also science fiction/fantasy books, magazines and film/TV shows; as well as horror, anime, manga, video games, webcomics, fantasy novels, and related toys and collectibles. “He was a really good businessman,” fellow co-founder Mike Towry said of Alf, but “in those early days, it was all about Richard’s VW.” Alf was hospitalized with terminal pancreatic cancer, but checked himself out because “he wanted to die in a home, not a hospital,” Towry said. He died the next day, January 5, at a friend’s house. He was 59.

From This is True for 8 January 2012